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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 14 November, 2018
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Good afternoon and welcome to our live coverage of the Guinness Pro12 final between Connacht and Leinster from Murrayfield.

A long season for these two provinces culminates in Edinburgh with silverware on the line as west meets east.

Kick-off is at 5.30pm and we’ll bring you every kick off the ball right here.

The scene is set at Murrayfield, where Connacht and Leinster fans have taken over.

A view of the Guinness PRO12 trophy Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Jonathan Sexton Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Connacht fans before the match Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Ryan Bailey here guiding you through the action while Murray Kinsella is in position at Murrayfield.

Leinster:

15. Rob Kearney
14. Dave Kearney
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Ben Te’o
11. Luke Fitzgerald
10. Jonathan Sexton
9. Eoin Reddan

1. Jack McGrath
2. Richardt Strauss
3. Mike Ross
4. Ross Molony
5. Mick Kearney
6. Rhys Ruddock
7. Jordi Murphy
8. Jamie Heaslip (captain)

Replacements:

16. Sean Cronin
17. Peter Dooley
18. Tadhg Furlong
19. Hayden Triggs
20. Jack Conan
21. Luke McGrath
22. Ian Madigan
23. Zane Kirchner

Connacht:

15. Tiernan O’Halloran
14. Niyi Adeolokun
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Bundee Aki
11. Matt Healy
10. AJ MacGinty
9. Kieran Marmion

1. Ronan Loughney
2. Tom McCartney
3. Finlay Bealham
4. Ultan Dillane
5. Aly Muldowney
6. Eoin McKeon
7. Jake Heenan
8. John Muldoon (captain)

Replacements:

16. Dave Heffernan
17. JP Cooney
18. Rodney Ah You
19. Andrew Browne
20. Sean O’Brien
21. John Cooney
22. Shane O’Leary
23. Peter Robb

Nigel Owens is the man in the middle today, in what will be his fourth Pro12 final.

It will be an all-Welsh team with Ian Davies and Ben Whitehouse running the lines and Jon Mason in the TMO booth.

John Muldoon, Jamie Heaslip with Nigel Owens Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A little under 30 minutes until kick-off, so why not whet your appetite by taking a look at some of our pre-match offerings:

A reminder that today’s game is live on Sky Sports 3 and TG4. If you aren’t near a TV, stick with us and you won’t miss any of the action.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the game. E-mail ryan@the42.ie, tweet @the42_ie, post a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

After a day of rain yesterday, conditions couldn’t be any more ideal in the Scottish capital this afternoon.

It has all the ingredients to be an absolute classic.

Source: The42.ie/YouTube

Connacht have finished their warm-up and have gone back into the dressing room. Leinster still going through their paces on the pitch with the atmosphere inside the ground building.

Not long until kick-off now. Which way do you see this one going?

Teams are in the tunnel and Jamie Heaslip looks absolutely pumped. The wait is almost over as the players emerge, side-by-side, to a big welcome.

Before we get underway, we’ll have a minute’s silence in honour of Devin Toner’s father, who passed away on Thursday night. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Toner family at this incredibly sad time.

1Mins

Early attacking platform for Leinster, who are wearing their changed white kit this afternoon.

2Mins

Connacht force the turnover and work their way out of their own 22. A knock-on sees the move break down and we have the first scrum of the day in halfway.

4Mins

First test for O’Halloran and he spills Sexton’s up-and-under, with Dave Kearney collecting the loose ball. Marmion is forced to drag him down before McGrath is bundled into touch.

6Mins

AJ MacGinty takes a chance and dummies onto his left-foot under pressure from Reddan. The out-half finds touch but Leinster are enjoying all the early territory.

6Mins

Marmion very nearly fumbles at the base of the ruck but he just about holds on to clear his lines. It has been a nervy start from Pat Lam’s side.

7Mins

Connacht burst into life. They spread it wide from their own 22 after Leinster lose the line-out. After absorbing the pressure, Healy demonstrates all his pace down this left side and kicks into space.

Fitzgerald is forced to come over and run it into touch. That has the Connacht crowd on their feet.

9Mins

First attacking platform for Connacht and they go through the phases before Muldowney loses the ball in contact.

10Mins

Already an incredible, frenetic pace to the game. All out attack from both sides in these early exchanges.

11Mins

Sexton really testing the aerial ability of O’Halloran as he sends another Garryowen deep into Connacht territory. Looking into the sun, the winger comes off his line and is unable to gather cleanly but it’s knocked-on by a white shirt and Nigel Owens awards Connacht a scrum.

It has been a wonderful start to the game.

Flag 13Mins

TRY! Connacht 7-0 Leinster (O’Halloran)

Matt Healy scythes through the Leinster defence in midfield and it eventually comes through Aki to O’Halloran on this near touchline. The full-baclk shows his pace and power to apply the finish and give Connacht the lead.

15Mins

Leinster were punished for a loose kick there as Healy was given far too much time and space in midfield to cut through the line of white shirts.

Connacht have all the momentum now as O’Halloran’s kick through is fumbled by Rob Kearney under pressure from the chasers.

17Mins

Brief pause in play here as Mick Kearney goes down after a clash of heads. Nigel Owens says he has to go off for a HIA. Hayden Triggs is coming on in his place.

18Mins

Superb hands from Connacht as they begin to apply the pressure. The westerners have enjoyed 79% of the possession in the last 10 minutes.

Pat Lam’s side look to get it wide at every opportunity with Niyi Adeolokun posing a huge threat on the right. On this occasion, Henshaw looks left but his kick is overhit.

20Mins

Aki powers through before finding Adeolokun with the offload. The flying winger bursts through the initial tackles but he’s just about hauled back by Jack McGrath.

21Mins

Kurt McQuilkin, Leinster’s defence coach, admits Connacht have his side ‘under the pump’ at the minute.

Flag 23Mins

TRY! Connacht 12-0 Leinster (Adeolokun)

Oh my word! Connacht keep it alive in midfield as they pass before contact and Leinster are stretched. Marmion scoops the loose ball up and finds Adeolokun, who kicks over the top and shows his pace to get ahead of Reddan before kicking it on again to touch down.

Flag 22Mins

TRY! Connacht 12-0 Leinster (Adeolokun)

Oh my word! Connacht keep it alive in midfield as they pass before contact and Leinster are stretched. Marmion scoops the loose ball up and finds Adeolokun, who kicks over the top and shows his pace to get ahead of Reddan before kicking it on again to touch down.

26Mins

Connacht have been sensational in the opening 25 minutes of this final. They are all over Leinster and are playing dream rugby. Absolutely breathtaking.

27Mins

Pat Lam’s side are in complete control. They’re smashing through the Leinster tackles and putting on an absolute masterclass here. A joy to watch.

27Mins

PENALTY! Connacht 15-0 Leinster (MacGinty)

First penalty of the game and MacGinty makes no mistake, extending Connacht’s lead.

29Mins

Leinster looking for a way back into the game but Molony knocks it on in the tackle and the move breaks down. Meanwhile, Luke Fitzgerald looks in real trouble on the far side with three medics attending to him.

29Mins

The first rendition of ‘The Fields of Athenry’ sweeps around Murrayfield as Fitzgerald receives attention.

30Mins

We restart with a Connacht scrum. Fitzgerald is back on his feet and continuing for now.

31Mins

Sexton receives some running repairs and on the restart receives a HUGE hit from Bundee Aki. You could feel that and the out-half slowly gets back up to his feet.

33Mins

Connacht’s defence stands firm again and they win a penalty. MacGinty finds touch but from the line-out, Aki uncharacteristically knocks-on.

35Mins

Chance for Leinster to ask some questions of their own. Sexton’s penalty sets-up the platform but, once again, the move breaks down as Reddan fumbles.

39Mins

Story of Leinster’s half. Just when they find a yard of space, it all breaks down because of a handling error.

Scintillating stuff from Connacht during a hugely enjoyable 40 minutes of rugby. They are in complete control of this final, running the show from the early stages and not letting Leinster have anything their way.

What can Leo Cullen do or say at half-time to turn this one around?

According to Sky Sports, Connacht have made 383 metres compared to Leinster’s 166.

 

Pat Lam’s side have also made 78 tackles, missing just three. In comparison Leinster have made 65 and missed a staggering 18.

41Mins

Connacht are 40 minutes away from a fitting ending to their fairytale season. Meanwhile, Sean O’Brien is on for Eoin McKeon.

42Mins

Double change straight after half-time for Leinster. Mike Ross and Richardt Strauss make way with Tadhg Furlong and Sean Cronin on in their place. Interesting move from Cullen.

43Mins

And they have an immediate impact as a strong Leinster scrum earns the eastern province a penalty, as Sexton calls for the tee.

Flag 44Mins

PENALTY! Connacht 15-3 Leinster (Sexton)

Leinster are on the board as Sexton dissects the posts from the tee.

47Mins

Connacht are so comfortable in possession and they go through the phases seamlessly. Brilliant hands and offloading and they eventually win a penalty. MacGinty lining this one up from just inside the Leinster half.

48Mins

But MacGinty doesn’t strike it cleanly enough and his effort falls well short.

49Mins

Connacht fans are enjoying their evening in the sun at Murrayfield.

Connacht fans Source: James Crombie/INPHO

51Mins

Ringrose looks to engineer something but Connacht have numbers in defence. Leinster attacking with more purpose but there’s a wall of green shirts there and Triggs can’t keep hold of it.

53Mins

Marmion comes away with it and Connacht have numbers here. Leinster are stretched but the scrum-half opts to go into contact rather than kick into space.

Nevertheless, the western province retain possession and they throw it wide. Breathtaking stuff.

53Mins

So close! Tom McCartney comes within inches of Connacht’s third try as he weaves his way in and out and Leinster just get back to hold him up on the line. Sexton makes the crucial tackle and the question is will that be a match-saving tackle?

53Mins

Five metre scrum to Connacht. This could be a defining moment in this final.

54Mins

They go right, to Aki, and he charges into contact. Leinster’s defence does enough to stop the initial threat and they force the turnover.

55Mins

34,550 is the attendance at Murrayfield. They’re being treated to a sensational game of rugby.

Flag 58Mins

TRY! Connacht 20-3 Leinster (Healy)

Connacht are almost there. They keep hold of the ball and patience pays off as AJ MacGinty’s grubber through bounces up perfectly for Healy to collect and dive over.

58Mins

Cullen makes another change with Luke McGrath replacing Reddan. Is there any way back for Leinster now?

63Mins

Zirchner’s first involvement sees him dot down in the corner but Nigel Owens pulls it back for a forward pass. It appears to be a harsh call.

62Mins

Andrew Browne on for Ultan Dillane and Conan on for Ross Molony on the Leinster side.

66Mins

John Cooney is being forced off, clutching his shoulder. Peter Robb is on and it looks as if Matt Healy is filling in at scrum-half.

Flag 67Mins

TRY! Connacht 20-10 Leinster (Cronin)

The replacement hooker, the former Connacht man, darts in and touches down in the far corner.

70Mins

Leinster on the front foot now. 82% possession in the last 10 minutes but time is against them.

71Mins

Leinster penalty, Sexton finds touch. Connacht make a change with Dave Heffernan on for McCartney. Tiarnan O’Halloran, who was superb, has also gone off.

71Mins

But it’s knocked on! Connacht fans urging their side on as John Muldoon and his team-mates rally themselves for the final 9 minutes.

73Mins

O’Halloran returns to the field after passing the HIA and Connacht have the ball. MacGinty then finds a brilliant touch as he brings play up to the halfway line.

74Mins

Brilliant kick to relieve the pressure from MacGinty there. Leinster throwing everything at Connacht now. Six minutes on the clock.

76Mins

They are just about there now.

77Mins

History beckons for this Connacht side. Incredible performance, incredible season, incredible team.

77Mins

John Muldoon named man of the match. What a servant for Connacht Rugby and it’s fitting that he will lift the Pro12 trophy at the end of this fairytale season.

79Mins

Just about sums it up. Sexton tries to run it from his own line but knocks it on.

79Mins

Nigel Owens wants one more play. Hold the celebrations for a moment.

80Mins

Leinster win the free-kick and they’re running it from deep.

The Connacht players and management flood onto the field as Nigel Owens blows the full-time whistle. Incredible scenes at Murrayfield.

There are tears of joy on the pitch and stands. An emotional John Muldoon says:

“We had a bet earlier in the year that if we won I would not cry – but that is the best €20 I have ever spent. Phenomenal and I would like to thank all the support who have come over. we are going to have one hell of a party.”

Thanks for joining us this evening. We’ll have all the reaction from Murrayfield to come.

About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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